WE SHOULD HAVE MADE PLAY-OFFS BUT WE BLEW IT
LEEDS star Ross McCormack has spoken of his frustration after admitting the Whites have underachieved his season.
Tipped to challenge for promotion under Neil Warnock, the Yorkshire giants struggled for consistency, winning back-toback league games just three times and rarely threatening the play-off places.
The loss of 19-goal top-scorer Luciano Becchio to Norwich in January also saw the goals dry up and Warnock departed last month with Leeds on the fringes of a relegation battle.
That danger has been averted by new gaffer Brian McDermott, but playmaker McCormack still regards the season as a missed opportunity.
“It’s been frustrating for me personally, but also for the club,” said the Scottish international. “We’re not where we want to be, where we feel we should be.
“We’ve got better players than the league position suggests but it was up to us to prove it and we didn’t.
“The fans and the players will tell you how many points and games we’ve thrown away. But for all that, we went into the Birmingham game last weekend just six points off the play-offs. That tells you what a missed opportunity it’s been.
“If we’d won the games we were on top in, things could be different. At Palace we threw a lead away, Leicester we threw a lead away. Middlesbrough should never have beaten us. That’s seven points just off the top of my head and even that would have put us in the mix. That’s the frustrating thing.”
And with McDermott, a Championship winner with Reading last season, ready to rebuild, McCormack knows the current crop of players could pay a heavy price for this season’s failures.
“We’re not daft,” he added. “We all know a new manager will bring new faces. And when you finish where we have, it obviously isn’t good enough.
“So for us, these next few games are vital to impress the manager and try to keep a place in the squad for next season.”
McCormack, though, rejects accusations that the Leeds players didn’t play for Warnock, who had already announced that he would leave if the Whites failed to win promotion. In the event, he walked with six games left, allowing McDermott to take charge.
“Basically, we knew when Neil got the job that if he didn’t get promotion this season he was going to go. He was always saying: ‘Oh this is my last season’ and talking about retiring. There was no ambiguity about it. So when we started fading away from the top six, we all knew it was only a matter of time. It was no surprise to us that he left before the end.
“But that didn’t affect the side. We haven’t got a bad egg in the camp, so there was never a chance that the boys would throw it just because they knew the manager was going. The lads want to do well for themselves and we appreciate being at a club the size of Leeds.”
For McCormack, though, there was one bright spot. The Scot joined Leeds from Cardiff in 2010 after two years in South Wales and was delighted to see his old mates win the title.
“I had a great time there and I still keep in touch with a lot of people,” he said.“Mark Hudson, Peter Whittingham, David Marshall and Kev McNaughton, who is still playing at 42! They deserve it and I’m so pleased for them. If Leeds weren’t going to get promoted this season then my next choice, 100 per cent, would have been Cardiff.
“It’s a great city a great club. If they can stay up for the next couple of years, I think the chairman will take his spending to another level and they could really be a power. I’m not saying they’ll win it or anything like that, but the top 10 isn’t out of the question. I’m buzzing for them.”
HONEST: Leeds star Ross McCormack says the squad know they under-achieved. Inset: New boss Brian McDermott